February’s theme is love. On account of it being Valentine’s Day soon, I decided that love was apt. When I thought about it, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place on which type of love to write about.
Of course there is romantic love. In an earlier post I wrote about the love and obsession, and all the trappings of love in a romantic relationship.
Lately, though, the dimensions of love have become very pertinent to me. Personally, I am very happy in my romantic love relationship and I count my blessings every day. Even so, my life is not without the aching, sometimes stabbing, pain that comes from family love gone wrong. There are lots of buzz words around that attempt to explain rifts in generational relationships. Dysfunctional, single-parent, estranged, divorced, abandoned. All of these words have negative connotations. None of them explain the depth of pain that accompanies the loss of a loved one. Not death, but loss. The case of Madeline McCann has highlighted the utter despair felt when a child goes missing. Although compounded by media blame laying, Kate and Gerry McCann’s despair was plain.
This high profile case is not an isolated incident by any means. This is not to trivialise or dumb-down, but to illustrate that the plethora of unsolved missing people cases do not dilute the effect but concentrate the depth of the pain of loss. The web site Missing People is one of several to focus on tracing the missing loved one, and the Salvation Army also run a missing person tracing service. More lately look4them has brought together more agencies to help with finding missing people. The police work within their own tight guidelines on missing persons, but if someone disappears, without stating the obvious, it is genuinely difficult to find them.
The optimum concern is for the missing person. Where are they? What happened to them? Are they OK? Able to contact family? So many different stories, so many different circumstance, so difficult to provide answers.
Ultimately, the parents, friends and family of the missing person are left in suspended animation, obliged to carry on with life but always with one ear on the phone, one eyes on the email just in case someone rings with news. Their whole existence becomes overshadowed by the fact that someone they love is missing. A problem with this seems to be that the further away relationally someone is from the missing person, the more difficult it is to understand the pain the loved one is going through. We all feel sorry when a person goes missing. We all quiz for a while, hope they are OK, wonder what has happened, then go back to our own compact universe.
The universe of the missing person’s loved ones is ruptured by deep pain. Often this manifests itself by the constant search for the missing person, sometimes lasting decades.
This is the strength of family love, generational love, a kind of love that holds memories and expectations for lives, extinguished in a moment by someone literally disappearing from view. Quite different from romantic love, but just as strong and valid. Quite similar to romantic love in that the loss of a personal relationship can bring a depth of despair that is often difficult to communicate. Quite unique in that the love for the person who has gone missing is an expression of the relationship, often between a parent and a child, that is taken so much for granted in society when everything is going right.
More problematic is the expression of this love when it all goes wrong. In some kind of taboo-like ritual, the media leads a witch hunt regarding ‘who is to blame’ with the baying public in their wake. The waves of accusation and blame often wash over the chasm of the feeling experienced by the loved ones. Is it that we simply don’t want to see the unbearable suffering endured but this loss of love? One thing that is clear is the depth of their love, mirrored in the depth of the pain experienced – whatever the circumstances. ‘Getting over’ a romantic relationship is something we all expect to go through sometime in our lives – but how do you get over the loss of a child when the expectation that one day they will return remains just over the horizon?
I am deeply interested in dialectics, and the opposite of love seems to be loss. Another blog for another day……